Petrolia residents fear hospital’s death by a thousand cuts

Liz MacDonald (far right) helps Petrolia residents sign a petition to save hospital services at a rally outside CEE.

Liz MacDonald (far right) helps Petrolia residents sign a petition to save hospital services at a rally outside CEE.

Liz MacDonald is feeling the effects of the small cuts which she and others say are decreasing the levels of service at Petrolia’s hospital.

MacDonald, who is an registered nurse practicing with her husband, Dr. Walter MacDonald, in the town was trying to call the

x-ray department at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital. “Twenty-three times it rang,” she says adding a specialist and the patient were both waiting on the results of the call.

And that was just today. MacDonald says it has been increasingly difficult to reach anyone at CEE since Bluewater Healt

h, which manages the site, centralized the phone system. “I’ve called and asked for X-Ray in Petrolia and got X-Ray in Sarnia.”

And the problems are not just with the phone system. MacDonald says patients have commented to her that the hospital is not as clean as it once was and the X-Ray department doesn’t have a receptionist anymore. That means the technician has to deal with people coming in and taking the X-rays. MacDonald had her foot x-rayed recently and had to hobble through the department to find someone to help her.

“They’re cutting the heart out of our health care,” says MacDonald, standing with about 50 people in front of CEE today as part of a province wide protest sponsored by the Ontario Health Coalition.

Helen Havlik, one of the representatives of the Sarnia-Lambton Health Care Coalition, agrees. “I do feel CEE is in jeopardy because of the insidious little cuts that are being made,” she says.

Havlik and the local health coalition are circulating a petition which calls for the province to list CEE as a hospital instead of site of Bluewater Health. That will force the province to continue to fund hospital services. It also calls on Bluewater Health to find ways to make sure it doesn’t cut the services from CEE which make it a “full-service autonomous small rural hospital.”

Havlik hopes to collect “thousands of signatures” across Sarnia-Lambton before April 30. Havlik is hopeful Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey will then present the petition in the Ontario Legislature.

– Heather Wright

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